Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
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August 20
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Maxim Vengerov
Maxim Vengerov was born in the Western Siberian capital, Novosibirsk, August 20, 1974. 

Vengerov was very young when he started playing the violin.  He tells a story of how when he was 4 he would practice the violin until he got too tired, then he would go out and ride his squeaky wheeled tricycle at 3 in the morning!
1882 - Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" debuted in Moscow.

1943 - Premiere of Ponce's Violin Concerto in Mexico City. Carlos Chavez conducting.

1956 - Premiere of Sir Arthur Bliss' Edinburgh Overture at the opening of the Edinburgh Festival of Music and Drama.

1969 - Frank Zappa disbanded the Mothers of Invention right after an eight-day tour in Canada. Zappa said that he was "tired of playing for people who clap for all the wrong reasons."

1979 - Premiere of John Harbison's opera The Winter's Tale in San Francisco, CA.

2004 - Peter Maxwell Davies: “Naxos Quartet” No. 4 (“Children’s Games”), in the Chapel of the Royal Palace, Oslo (Norway) during the Oslo Chamber Music Festival, by the Maggini Quartet.
When he was 5 his father heard about an excellent violin teacher named Galena Turtschaninova.  They went to her apartment without an appointment.  She had another appointment scheduled to audition a student.  She thought Vengerov was that boy, granted him the audition, then took him on as a student.  Only later did she realize that she had listened to the wrong violinist.

In Vengerov's words,
"At first I didn't like my teacher very much. She was very stern. I got it into my head that I would refuse to play, and for five straight lessons I didn't play a note. The teacher was about to throw me out for good, and my mother was so upset she started to cry. That really got to me, so I broke down and played 17 pieces all in a row, by heart. I had been practicing hard all along, after all; it's just that I wouldn't play in my lesson."  Praised by his astounded teacher, Vengerov became extremely motivated to work hard, and redoubled his efforts.

Vengerov credits his living in Siberia with a great deal of his love of music.  The old Soviet Union had sent many artists to that part of the country during World War II to protect them from the fighting.  The music commuinity there became very strong and deep with terrific musical education, great orchestras, and a fine opera house..

When Vengerov was seven he and his grandparents moved to Moscow where he was placed into a school for exceptionally talented children.  Prior to the move he had practiced "eight or nine hours a day."  But after his move he says that his technique had improved to the extent that he cut his practice time to just three hours.

Vengerov's hard work paid off.  When he was just ten years old he won the Junior Wieniawski Competition in Poland.

The win led to recital engagements in Moscow and Leningrad.  His reputation grew.  He was soon performing with such orchestras as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic and the USSR State Symphony Orchestra.  He also began to record, with his 1995 recording of the Prokofiev and Shostakovich Violin Concertos winning Gramophone Awards as well as receiving two Grammy nominations.

But what was perhaps his most meaningful compliment came from a man whose name Vengerov never even knew.  "After a recital I played in Moscow, a very old man approached me and said: 'Listen and pay attention to what I say. Stay this way all your life. Don't get spoiled. You are no longer a prodigy; you are a mature musician. You are so musical that you don't even have to think about the music. Your technique is so good that you just play what you feel.'"

And Vengerov tries to keep life in perspective. 
"I really can't imagine my life without music at the center. I always thank God for giving me this gift, and I believe that it carries with it the responsibility to use it generously."
We read about Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture below.  It was written to commemorate Russia's victory over Napoleon in 1812.  The score calls for a rather unusual instrument to be used toward the end of the piece. Can You Guess what instrument makes a appearance?

Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
Turn up your speakers and click on the picture of the cannon to hear the Minnesota Orchestra's version of the finale!  (The first cannon shot's 12 seconds in!)
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The violinist is that peculiarly human phenomenon distilled to a rare potency--half tiger half poet. 

Yehudi Menuhin
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